Some of you reading this may already know, but a few weeks ago, we lost our baby at the end of the first trimester. This was our fifth pregnancy and first miscarriage. Something we never expected, despite knowing it was so incredibly common.
We really are doing well, all things considered. Better than I expected, actually, and I largely attribute that to being able to share our hurt with so many people. We had already announced the pregnancy before we lost Kolbe, and our whole community of family and friends has been so supportive and generous. We’ve been showered with meals, prayers, messages, gifts, flowers, cards and letters, even a private mass offered for us by our priest friend up north.
This isn’t the first time we have been the recipients of this kind of support, and each new trial that we are carried though, my heart grows tenfold. I’m also inspired to be more generous myself, when others are struggling, because I know how much it means to me on this end. Our communities can really make such a difference when we allow them to enter into our suffering. This is something we’ve witnessed time and again and I think people often overlook the power of community and are afraid to be vulnerable and transparent in their times of need. I know that I was only a few years ago. But after opening up and asking for help, we’ve learned that people genuinely want to help and it strengthens those relationships when we accept the help. And, again, I’m always motivated to pass it on when I’m in a place to offer support again. Highly recommend that whole “sharing the load” thing.
Our pastor and associate pastor have also made this experience much more manageable by their incredible care and support. Initially, I thought we should have some sort of memorial/prayer service for the sake of the older girls. They were so looking forward to having another baby and were devastated by the loss. So, this would give them some closure, we thought. I emailed our pastor and associate and within a half hour got a call from Fr. Mark. He arranged with Fr. Mike, our young and fantastic associate, to do the service the following Sunday.
It was my husband, Chris’, idea to have it in our home, which ended up being so special and intimate. Fr. Mike came over and said a set of four prayers for loss. We lit a candle for each prayer – one for tears, hope, peace, and strength (pro-tip: anything with candles is captivating to kids and they pay much closer attention when fire is involved). It just so happens that on our prayer table, we already keep four candles that we light frequently for family prayer. Now, every time we use them we will think of our Kolbe David in a special way. Fr. Mike also had a blessing for me and the family and said a few words of reflection for the girls. The entire experience was beautiful and so healing for all of us. I was surprised how moved I was by the prayers and blessings. Not sure why, but for some reason I thought I was doing it for the kids. Rookie mistake, I know. I’ll never learn.
In addition, we purchased a wooden box to keep some special items meant for the baby. The girls had already made cards and pictures that they were saving for when the new baby was born, so this was a place for all their gifts. Lucia (5) picked out some baby boy monster shoes that she loved, Brenna (7) had a few different pictures and papers to contribute. But what I love most, is that it’s a tangible place for them to continue to give their gifts for their brother in heaven. Brenna has already drawn more pictures and they talk about gifts they’ll put in later. My hope is that whenever they feel sad, they can write a note or draw a picture and place it in the box, or they can include him in their Valentine or Christmas card making.
We ask for Kolbe’s intercession daily and the girls speak very matter-of-factly about our family’s little prayer warrior in heaven.
It is painful on so many levels to lose a baby. I had no idea the physical toll a miscarriage takes on a woman’s body. I’m sure many of you can relate. But it has been very beautiful to watch our girls navigate through this pain and bring such light to a hard situation. As always, I am so very grateful for our girl gang. They are tough as nails but sweet as pie. And intuitive and sensitive to boot.
I wish no one ever had to go through the loss of a child. My doctor said it so well, that this is one proof that we live in a fallen world. Deep down, we know losing a child just isn’t right. But we also know that, in the end, all things will be made new and we will hopefully meet our children in heaven. (Yes, he said all that. Yes, he’s a great doctor)
So, all of this to say, reach out when you’re going through a difficult time. Allow your community to serve you as the hands and feet of Christ, then turn around and do the same for others when you are well. It’s amazing the fruit and graces that come from sharing our pain. Also, we’re makin’ it.